Two consecutive years of 5% raises for Indiana K-12 public school teachers would be historic.

A 15% increase in the overall budget for education across the state would be historic.

An aggressive program to address immediately the disparity in education spending in poor rural and urban districts, compared to wealthier districts, would be historic.

The 2.5% increase in education spending each of the next two years approved by the legislature and signed into law by the governor this week?

Not so historic.

But that was the adjective selected by House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) to describe the commitment to education represented in the budget.

Bosma's word choice illuminates a fact that has been clear to Hoosiers since then-Gov. Mitch Daniels oversaw a $300 million cut to the state's education funding in 2010: Indiana's Republican leaders, when it comes down to it, greatly undervalue public K-12 education.

A group of people representing some state education organizations stood with Bosma at the Statehouse as he gushed over the budget's increases in education spending. Noticeably absent: teachers.

The budget, you see, contains no money for across-the-board teacher salary increases. That means Indiana's classroom leaders will continue to languish near the bottom of the pay pool.

Only 15 states had lower average teacher salaries in 2017-18 than Indiana, according to statistics from the National Education Association. Teachers in at least four of those states have gone on strike in the past two years, and educators in at least three others have taken similar action.

The average salary for a Hoosier K-12 public school teacher was $35,943 last academic year. That's just $10,000 over the federal poverty level for a family of four, according to a chart published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Here in Anderson and across Indiana, teachers and their supporters have held #RedforEd walk-ins over the past few weeks to demonstrate for better pay and more school resources.

Will they eventually have to go on strike, as their under-compensated brethren in other states have done, to get the Legislature's attention?

That's the sort of historic event that Bosma, Holcomb and other state Republican leaders should do their best to avoid.

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